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Was your Thanksgiving table a little crowded this year? It can be a real treat to have family and friends gather to give thanks and to enjoy a special meal. But the seating arrangements can be uncomfortable if you have too many people squeezed together, especially if the table doesn’t fit well in your space.

If it’s time to replace your old table and you’ve vowed that you’re going to have something better before the crowds descend again this Christmas or next Thanksgiving, Showman Furniture has got some suggestions to help make your table shopping a little easier.

Your Table Shopping Homework

Although you may be tempted to go out immediately and do some table shopping at various furniture stores in Maryland, you should start your search at home. Before you go out, evaluate the space that you have available. That way you won’t get your heart set on a table that’s too big (or even too small) for the space that you have.

Measure your dining room, kitchen or living room – wherever you’re planning on locating the table – and draw a sketch of the space keeping it to scale. (Graph paper works great for this; if you don’t have any on hand, go to and print out as many pages as you need.)

Consider how much of your room’s space will be required for people to seat themselves and to walk around when others are seated. Having a minimum of 30 inches of pullout space from the table’s edge to the wall will allow your guests to seat themselves comfortably and let others pass. (Remember, you’ll need to do this on all sides of the table.)

Consider the number of people you’ll be seating on a regular basis (and on holidays). Furniture experts advise allowing between 24 and 30 inches per place setting. Don’t forget to save space for any other furniture you have or intend to buy, such as a hutch or a buffet.

Also, consider if you want to buy new chairs. If you want to keep the chairs you have, measure the height of your current table – you already know that the chairs work well with it.

And, finally, measure your doorways. It’s especially important if the table comes in one piece. You don’t want to buy it and find out later you can’t fit it through the doorway.

Types of Tables

It’s fun to start visiting Maryland furniture stores to see all the available table choices. (Be sure to put Showman Furniture at the top of your list – we’ve got a great selection.) The table you choose doesn’t have to exactly match the furniture you already have, but it should at least complement it. Be particularly careful if you’re planning on saving your dining chairs; you may want to carry a picture of your chairs with you to help you envision how they would work with a particular table.

Bring your room sketch, too, so that you can measure tables and actually plot out how they would fit in that space.

Rectangular and square tables are the most common type and usually run between 32-46 inches wide. Any narrower than 32 inches and you won’t have room for any serving dishes; any wider than 48 inches, and you’ll have trouble passing food across the table.

A round table can seat many people and also leaves plenty of room for legs since round tables often – but not always – have a single pedestal in the center to support them. A round table will be perfect for a square dining space.

A table with adjustable leaves is ideal for families that don’t have many family members in the household but tend to welcome many guests on holidays. One drawback of this design – dropped leaves make it uncomfortable to sit at the head of the table because of the restricted leg space.

Extendable table. Some tables come with a mechanism to allow an insert to be placed in the middle, thus extending the length of the table. This is also a good solution for families who only need a large table on certain occasions. The extension piece can be stored in the basement when not needed.

Custom-made table. If you already have a big family living in the same house and expect even more visitors on holidays, it makes sense just to get a very big table. These are hard to come by because not everyone has the room for one. If you can’t find anything in stores, consider ordering a custom-made table from local craftsmen or furniture makers.

A tip: If you are expecting more people than your table (no matter how big) can seat, consider using benches instead of chairs. They are perfect for seating children who don’t need as much space as adults, anyway. Having a separate table for kids is another option.

Once you’ve found the perfect table, check your measurements once more to make sure it will fit well. A table that’s too big, no matter how beautiful, may become an annoyance if it’s hard to maneuver around whenever you’re setting the table or serving a meal.

Holiday table